The True Cost of Severe Brain Injury

Dementia disease and a loss of brain function and memories

Human brain research and memory loss as symbol of alzheimer’s concept with missing pieces of the puzzle

For many, their biggest fear is a severe head or spinal injury. Either can permanently affect their mobility, personality, and quality of life. For many victims, the changes are permanent and irreversible. Even treatable conditions can take months or years and lead to thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills. This is in combination with lost work, severe changes to your family, and tremendous pain and suffering.

There are no winners in such injuries. The severity of brain injuries can take many forms and come with a tremendous number of complications. A Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, caused by an accident is a devastating diagnosis.

When injured in such a manner, it is important to work with your family, doctor, and attorney to determine the exact amount of damage that has been done to you. Common issues, such as the cost of immediate treatment and lost work could be just the tip of the iceberg. In addition, there could be other issues not even considered early in the process.

Brain Injuries are a Complex Problem When Determining the True Costs

Being able to adequately determine the true cost of the injury is complex– a bit of combining actuarial math with medical science. The sheer cost of therapy can reach into the millions. You attorney and doctor can work together to estimate your lifetime cost of such rehabilitation and get it paid in full. You can also fit in the cost of your medications and psychological stress. Many people also lose significant quality of life, including their ability to spend time with their family, consort with their significant other, and general damages.

  • The Many Factors That Need to Be Calculated in Resolving a TBI Claim

There is no pain or problem too small to examine. Each one can cascade with other factors to completely reshape an injury victim’s life and cause them to be unable to successfully lead the life that they did previously or wanted to. They may be confined to a wheelchair or cognitively impaired. No matter what the injury, making sure that you are at the best condition to meet it is necessary.

Ehline Law has handled many similar cases in the past and have seen the sheer effects of such injuries on many of our clients. This is why we have stuck with them through thick and thin to rebuild their lives as much as possible. For more information, including a free, no-pressure consultation, please call or email us today at any time of day or night.

How to Have the Best Chance to Win Your Insurance Claim

Ehline Law Griffin Logo

The Griffin logo of Ehline Law Firm PC Los Angeles.

You pay your insurance company bills religiously in case something bad happens. Whether it be your auto, home, health, or life insurance, many consumers simply don’t think about the fact that these corporations may not honor their own policies. Other times insurance companies will simply play games, run your expiration time to arbitrate or sue down, or engage in some other unsavory tactic to screw you under. When this happens, wounded and often incoherent accident victims in particular are often blindsided and not sure about how to proceed. This is where you need guidance from only the best in legal attention.

There are Many Appreciable Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Chances of Getting Paid in Claim

There are several steps that an accident victim can take in order to lessen the chance of being rooked by their own insurance carrier. Hopefully it does not come to conflict, but for many it does. Below are some tips that the victim can take in order to prevent a second tragedy.

  • When in Doubt, Contact an Attorney: This might not always be your first step, but the rule of thumb is to make sure that you have a proficient advocate behind you in order to take on any insurance company shenanigans and protect you every step of the way. Ehline Law’s experience in dealing with nearly every insurance carrier in the state of California can help you when needed.
  • Get it in Writing: It is important that every step of the insurance process is documented. You should get written confirmation for every issue spoken to an adjustor regarding, as well as any potential payouts or changes to your policies. It is not uncommon to have verbal agreements denied by the company– and this denial holding up in court because of a lack of documentation. If your claim is denied, make sure that you get a written reason why from the company.

Keep all of this paperwork properly organized and ready to use in and out of the courtroom. Not only will you help your attorney in the eventuality that you need a lawyer, but it will also help you hire your lawyer and save you much time and stress. This can also help you prepare a coherent case against the company itself in bad faith (Read about insurance bad faith here.) Keep an eye on all details, including your own signature and dates. Organize by subject, date, or both.

When you leave the insurance company forewarned that you have all your ducks in a row, you stand a much better chance of winning any potential case against a recalcitrant insurance company. In addition, your prudence may be able to actually save you a trip to court, as discussed earlier. Many insurance adjustors will back down when they realize they have a prepared and knowledgeable client, especially one represented by an attorney.

For more information, call or email Ehline Law today. Our years of experience handling similar cases can help you in your trying time.

Home-Owners Insurance and Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury claims that began while a victim is lawfully upon the premises of another, are brought when that individual has been harmed due to another person’s carelessness or recklessness of the property owner, which under personal injury law is considered negligence. When an individual is harmed in the mishap they can be financially devastated by the cost of medical care and lost wages with the amount of time needed for recovery. Filing a personal injury claim to obtain a settlement or jury verdict can help in recovering damages for the expenses of the victim and their family have suffered.

In Most Cases Insurance Pays the Damages Claims

Generally, when personal injury lawsuit or claim it is settled the financial recovery will be paid by the insurance company. In the event that the injuries are extremely severe, there may not be enough money to cover the victim. In other words, the policy holder may not have enough insurance. There are often some instances that the insurance claim against the policy holder’s homeowners insurance covers various types of claims that compensation can be obtained upon. For example, many homeowner’s policies will cover animal or dog bite attacks, slip and falls and other harm resulting in injuries on the premises.


Sometimes Home-Owners Insurance Covers Damages Off Of The Premises

In some states the homeowner policy may even cover driving under the influence accidents connected to the home, such as where the owner negligently permitted someone to drive their vehicle after consuming enough alcohol to become intoxicated. In California, a pedestrian run over in a hit and run case, may even be able to make a claim against his or her own homeowners policy.

  • Special Rules

Homeowner’s policies often include coverage due to special rules that cover children referred to as an attractive nuisance. This legal doctrine means that the home-owners insurance may cover children’s injuries on a property. Even if they trespass, when there are certain parts of the property they may want to play. Unsafe conditions on the property that could pose a hazard to children should be removed.

  • Specific Hazards

There are some types of mishaps that the homeowner’s insurance may not cover and the property owner has a duty to disclose specific kinds of hazards. In some cases accidents such as stairs that would normally be safe, the design and construction is up to standards, if an individual falls down the stairs the insurance company may not payout. Homeowner insurance coverage can be limited to certain amounts for incidences. One of the limits may include house fires where there may be a limited amount for the incident and depending on injuries of individuals this amount must be split between each party.


Consulting a Lawyer Always Helps

When harm is sustained due to the property owner’s negligence, this is considered a personal injury. Consulting a lawyer specializing in this area of personal injury law for the damages suffered they can evaluate the claim and determine what the case may be covered under homeowner’s insurance. In injury cases it may be necessary to bring a lawsuit to have a jury award a settlement, rather than negotiating with the insurance company when they do not offer a fair settlement. Most homeowner insurance claims will be able to be settled through negotiations, rather than going to court.


Ehline Law Firm PC

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Los Angeles, CA 90071

(213) 596-9642


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Why Have Road Fatalities Jumped this Year?

Evening vigil for dead accident victim

Roadside memorial for dead car crash victim

With overall road safety improving over the last generation, it may seem counter-intuitive to have a significant jump in road fatalities this year of 2015. However, if the rate of fatal car accidents continues through the end of December, that is what we are looking at this year. According to federal statistics, the rate of fatal accidents has taken a jump. When looking at these stats and significant cases, we can begin to understand why and how that could occur.

As stated previously the overall trend has been going down. There has been an increase in car safety attempts, including new safety features in cars, the Cash for Clunkers program taking older cars off the road, and differences in design. Altogether, this has been combined with a general decline in annual miles driven annually.

Reasons Why 2015 Appears to Be Turning into the Year of the Fatal Motor Vehicle Accident

However, this year appears to be a bit different. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there was a three percent decline in accident fatalities between 2012 and 2013. This year’s pro rated data are pointing to an increase– and there may be several factors why.

  • Increase of driven miles: Due to the upswing in the economy, more miles are undertaken each year. This includes businesses now traveling the road to get goods and services to consumers. In addition, families are now taking more time on the road, leading to higher numbers of accidents.
  • Increase in distracted driving: The number of electronic devices in cars has increased exponentially over the last decade. This can include cell phones, GPS units, tablets, and others. This, combined with lack of education regarding the use of such devices, especially among young people, can cause many issues on the road.

The NHTSA also reported that:

“the percentage of drivers text-messaging or visibly manipulating handheld devices increased from 1.7 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2014; this was a statistically significant increase.”

This causes thousands of accidents each year, including many fatalities. These factors, coupled with potential changes in driving patterns can help cause the increase in fatalities. Ehline Law has been studying the developing situation and has advice for drivers on how to avoid accidents and fatalities. Keep reading our accident articles for more information.

Causes of Poor Los Angeles Road Conditions

Mapping the bad roads

Topical map of L.A. roads.

Single vehicle accidents are always treated suspiciously by law enforcement. It makes sense, as cops are so used to taking Traffic Collision Reports from victims with two sides of a story. Many police assume that the victim driver was drunk or on drugs and treat the case as a criminal investigation against the driver.

Taking a Look at the Headache of L.A. Roads

The reality is there are cities in Los Angeles and its connected locales with bad roads that can actually kill or maim vehicle occupants and bystanders. The condition of the roads in and around Los Angeles are a topic of constant conversation in the news, especially when it rains or there is a flood. Taking a look at any of the roads of the city can cause headache, especially if you have to drive them daily. There’s a reason that many people traveling through Southern California attempt to avoid the city altogether, especially with concerns about constant heavy traffic.

  • LA Times Interactive Map

The Los Angeles Times has a very interesting interactive map to look at the road conditions across the city. The map also allows users to look at the conditions by road, by district, and by neighborhood. You can see how some of the worst roads are in some of the seemingly obvious places, including Hollywood Hills and Silver Lake. The high number of poor roads is unmistakable for commuters and pedestrians.

  • Our Roads are Among the Poorest in the Country

Two years ago, LA area roads were rated the worst in the country, with the neighboring Valley town of Glendale beating Rhode Island with having the most terrible drivers (check it out here.) A Los Angeles Times article shows just a portion of the street and highway conditions that are of concern. The combination of bad drivers nearby and torn up roads can definitely be costly to taxpayers and commuters. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Washington DC based research group TRIP, the conditions, including potholes and other issues cost each driver over $800 per year.

Almost 9,000 Miles of LA Roads Get a C-Minus Grade?

After a recent federal highway rating system was put in place, LA’s 8,700 miles of roads graded a poor C-minus, while a quarter of which received an F (view source.) Furthermore, officials loudly proclaim that there is a sixty year backlog of urgent repairs needed, and almost two thirds of the roads in the city are in poor condition but commerce is a major factor in slowing the repairs (view source.)

  • Lawyers Can Help Compensate Victims Hurt on Bad Roads

The shape of the roads that you and your family rely on each and every day are of the highest concern. If you have been the victim of an accident due to negligence from Caltrans or the LA DOT, you need to contact an attorney immediately. They are under an obligation to keep the public safe and the roads well maintained. Let’s make sure that they do.

Most Common Causes of California Fatal Car Accidents

Map of Golden State

Sliver shot of California Map

California’s roadways are a dream for many, with miles of open road ahead of them in the sun. However, driving anywhere has its potential dangers. The vast amount of pavement and drivers in the state lead to a statistical fact of car accidents each year. Unfortunately, this also means thousands of deaths on the road each year.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, or OTS’s statistics, in 2013, the total number of fatalities on the state’s roads increased 1.2 percent, totaling up from 2,966 in 2012 to 3,000 in 2013. This is no insignificant number, especially for the families involved in these accident. Even despite driver education, experience, and efforts by car companies to make their vehicles safer, such accidents will remain a certainty for years.

The Many Deadly Factors to Consider Facing California Drivers

To determine many of the causes of fatal accidents in California, many factors must be considered. This is not just a singular issue that is facing the state’s drivers. Common factors include:

  • Auto Company Negligence: There have been some high profile cases of companies shirking their duty and allowing vehicles on the road that have no place being there. These autos are sometimes recalled only after significant public outcry or fatal accidents, or both. This is unacceptable for those that put their lives on the line when driving.
  • Car Culture in California: Car culture in the state has allowed for drivers to get a lot of experience behind the wheel that could prevent other accidents. However, issues that are commonly referred to include the risk of improper turning and not checking for bicyclists, pedestrians, and other vehicles.
  • Weather Issues: While most of California do not see snow issues, the weather can be a common problem. Snow in the northern regions, heavy rain on dry ground, and crosswinds all have roles in fatal accidents.
  • Driving Impaired: This can include drinking and driving, which causes hundreds of deaths in California each year. In addition, there are also issues with people taking prescription meds causing issues when driving.

All of these and other factors combine to cause an environment that should warrant attention. Experience and purchasing safer cars may keep your family safe. If you are ever in need of advice regarding a crash, please reach out to our offices at any time.

Bicycles and Sidewalks?

Old Cracked Sidewalk

Old Cracked Sidewalk

Anyone who has been riding a bicycle for a length of time has heard they should not ride on the sidewalk for a number of reasons, including that it is easier to crash. In some cities it is often illegal for a bicyclist to ride on sidewalks in the state of California. This includes Sacramento County, Fulsom and Galt where bikes cannot be ridden on sidewalks at all. But there are other cities that do allow it (See “Sidewalk Riding Laws Here.”) At the same time on streets within neighborhoods is not uncommon to see cyclists on the sidewalk, but they are generally either children or inexperienced bicyclists. Adult cyclists are generally unaware of the risks riding on the sidewalk can pose.

Bike safety advocates have a number of reasons why this could be dangerous and result in being harmed including:

  • Automobile Dangers: vehicles cross the sidewalk everyday in neighborhoods pulling into their driveway or leaving it and in some cases the driveway may be obstructed from the bikers view by bushes or other obstacles. The driver doesn’t generally stop at to check before reaching the edge of the road, because they are looking for traffic so they can pull out onto the road, not for bicycles. This could easily mean a collision in which the bicyclist would be hurt.
  • Pedestrians: Sidewalks are made for pedestrians to be safe while walking. They often listen to music with earbuds, eat, drink and even play around while walking. They are not always looking for a bicyclist so they can move out of the way and if a bicyclist hits a pedestrian it can cause serious injuries for the person walking and the person riding a bike.
  • Intersections: Intersections are a dangerous place for the bicyclists with vehicles going in different directions and if the rider is on the sidewalk it is possible parked cars are obstructing their view and the driver’s view of the bike. This reason and other kind of obstructions like bushes or trees that obstruct the motorists view can give them little or no time to react before a collision happens seriously injuring the bicyclist.

When the Sidewalk is Safer

While in some cities or counties riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is not permitted and bicycle safety advocates warn against it, but there are some situations where riding on the sidewalk is a safer option. Not all roadways have bicycle lanes or areas where the rider can be safe with speeding traffic, areas with numerous potholes and grates or other dangerous elements. In these cases the cyclists feels safer riding on the sidewalk and it could be the safer choice.

When it is safer to ride on the sidewalk, not that bicyclists should violate the law, but in avoiding the higher risk of riding on the road then the rider needs to follow some basic rules. These rules can help keep them safe and pedestrians who are permitted to use the sidewalk.

  • Ride slowly this is a key rule that shouldn’t be broken. Riding on the sidewalk is not the same as the road for speed.
  • Yield to pedestrians, because on the sidewalk they have the right-of-way, just like on the road there are rules to protect people from harm on sidewalks.
  • If necessary walk the bike making it safer for you and for other pedestrians.
  • Use extreme caution when approaching driveways, or areas where there are bushes that could hide a driveway from view.
  • Use caution if riding on the outside of the sidewalk where there may be parked cars because a car door opening can cause serious harm.
  • Be cautious at intersections.
  • Cross streets at crosswalks only just as pedestrians should.

Ehline Law Firm PC the Southern California bicycle injury attorney (Read More.) hopes bicyclists will find this useful information about sidewalks and the possibility it may not be legal to ride on them in your area, but sometimes it is safer than the road though we do not advocate violating the law.

California Senate Bill 411 Signed into Law—Legal to Film Police Officers

Many California citizens have heard the demand from the police: “sir, please turn of the camera,” or “turn off the camera or you’ll be arrested,” or words to that effect. What most of us know who have had contacts with law enforcement, is that most cops hate to be filmed. From the academy training onward, police are trained to protect the city from potential lawsuits and to “take charge.” In fact, contrary to what most people think, the job of the police is not to protect citizens or their property.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the police did not have a constitutional duty to protect a person from harm, even a woman who had obtained a court-issued protective order against a violent…  (See also NY Times.)

The primary job of the municipal police is to protect government property, personnel and “policy.” (eg police.)

  • Officer safety, and many other reasons are given as justifications for police not being caught on tape.

According to attorney Michael Ehline:

When a citizen does not comply, many times he or she finds a ride to the local jail, and thousands in attorney’s fees for fighting off a frivolous Penal Code Section 148 charge.  Although the courts have already made clear that citizens can generally film police, with certain exceptions, such as safety demanding that filmers be well clear of the potential danger zone.

Unfortunately, in the Golden State, each jurisdiction and department liked to handle these primarily “false arrest” cases differently. Sadly, the many state prosecutorial agencies needed to see it in writing from the governor before they would force their officers to start honoring the law on filming police. California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 411, which gives citizens the right to film police professionals while on duty.

This means when police officers are detaining a suspect or making an arrest witnesses who have been using cell phones to record the incidents or even the person being detained recording the event can now do so legally in the state of California. In the past many of the recorded videos have been posted to social media websites or YouTube and then gone viral. According to Sacramento County Sgt. Jason Ramos it is the way the world has become and people are interested when they witness law enforcement interaction with individuals. Cops hate it!

  • Yawn

Sgt. Ramos did say that in many cases the officers jobs are more dangerous because of witnesses recording the scene. There is a potential for officers to become preoccupied with the people making the videos. The law enforcement officer went on to say there is a “fine line between being a diligent citizen with a camera and interfering.” I call nonsense. A diligent citizen would simply remain outside the zone of interference, and exercise good judgment. The film of the altercation can at least show evidence of reasonableness, or not.

State Senator Ricardo Lara was the author of Senate Bill 411 and says he believes it is important for it to be clear in a statute for an average citizen to be able to lawfully record police officer without concern of being arrested or intimidated.  Of course, knowing cops as I know them, this will not stop cameras from being stomped, and other methods being employed in order to “get control.”

Lara said that having the code into California law cell phone evidence has the ability to keep people safe.
The new law comes after an early August incident where a Rohnert Park officer pointed a gun at a man who recorded the event on his cell phone. The law enforcement officer is now facing a lawsuit. One of the cell phone videos recorded made national headlines. This was the Eric Garner choking video.

Lara said everyone has cell phones today and now can be used to “deter violence.” The Garner video is one of the examples and cell phone videos can provide evidence in police wrong doing investigations. The Senator did make it clear the bill does not in any way give citizens the legal right to interfere with police, which is already what the law was prior to the bill being passed.

Senator Lara had support from the ACLU for passing of Senate Bill 411, saying in a written statement to the senator the bill will help to ensure every citizen is able to exercise their Constitutional right by making audio or video recordings or taking photographs. The letter goes on to say it is a “clear constitutional right to photograph and record the police in the performance of their duties.”

The letter concludes by stating the bill ensures the public’s right to gather information about their officials in the uncovering of abuses and it may have an effect on the functioning of government in a more general sense. We applaud the ACLU’s efforts at getting the state to notify its agencies what the law is, but we question the need to spend so much time and effort on this. Passing a law to make law what already is the law is not an efficient administration of justice, and also sheds light on why jury nullification is making more and more sense.

California Weather and Icy Roadways

Ice machines in front of a store covered in snow during a storm.

Ice machines in front of a store covered in snow during a storm.

For people residing or passing through Southern California, snow and ice are not what they typically will encounter unless they drive up into the mountains during the winter time. But amazingly, we experience black ice near the beach in areas like Rancho Palos Verdes, for example. So yeah, ice happens where ill equipped California drivers least expect it.

Ice on the roadway is one of the most dangerous weather related situations the California driver will likely face. This more dangerous than the rain and fog driver’s in California face, since the only comparable driving hazard would be hydroplaning on wet pavement, which leaves the driver with no control.

Annually, the state of California reports that there are hundreds of serious motor vehicle accidents, with some resulting in fatalities due to the slippery condition of the roadways. In California the total percentage of accidents related to icy conditions on the road number much lower than non-weather related crashes, but even low in number collisions occurring on ice slicked roads warrant concern.

One of the most dangerous types of icing conditions on the roadway is called black ice, which is water that once night falls it freezes and is often not visible to drivers at night. In some cases the driver may see the ice illuminate from the headlights of the vehicle in time to use extra caution driving on this section of the pavement.

Reducing Ice Related Accidents

Having a little knowledge is important during the colder months of the year and having access to current weather information can help to keep drivers and their passengers safe. Being prepared for icy conditions is essential when operating a motor vehicle or in any of the variety of weather conditions that can result in ice forming on roadways.

A few things to remember during cooler weather are:

  • If there is fog and the temperature is near freezing 32F, heavy icing is possible on asphalt and concrete.
  • Bridges often freeze before roadways in near freezing temperatures.
  • Low lying areas and valleys often have icing conditions first, since cold air settles in these areas.
  • When the sky is clear, but there is moisture on the road and the temperature falls below the upper 30’s the roads can become icy.

What Conditions Cause Icing on Roads if it isn’t Raining or Sleeting?

Ice on roadways is not always from rain or freezing rain the moisture can come from several other weather factors and temperatures around 32F or freezing.

  • Fog settling on the roadway combined with freezing temperatures can cause heavy icing.
  • Frost, which is a collection of frozen moisture from the air that can be seen after sunset, during the night and early morning.
  • Water from snow that has melted during traffic from the warming of the roadway. Then when the roadway cools and temperatures dip during the day or at night causing the melted snow water to freeze.
  • Ground water seepage, which then freezes on the road due to the air temperature.
  • Freezing rain, which is also called sleet can build up on the road causing icy conditions rather than melting because of freezing air temperatures.

These conditions can occur one at a time or can be a combination with more than one making the roads hazardous.

Valleys and Low Lying Areas

Valleys and low lying areas often have icy road conditions when other areas may not have any problems with roadways. This is because cold air is heavier and denser than warm air causing it to move down from higher elevations, even if it only a minor hill.

Clear nights with relatively few clouds results in colder temperatures and surfaces like asphalt tend to cool faster and cooler than the air above. This causes low lying areas to often be as much as 2-5 degrees colder than elevated areas a short distance away. City temperatures are warmer than rural areas even at night because of the amount of traffic and buildings that retain heat from the daylight hours. But this is often a double edged sword, since the warmth can melt freezing rain, snow and rain from creating slick conditions.

When the traffic slows and evening falls temperatures decrease causing water on the roadway to freeze when the temperatures are low. There are some areas where the air may be colder than other areas and is referred to in meteorology terms as thermal signatures. What this means to the person driving on the road is while other areas are just wet coming across a small area where the temperature is colder can mean ice or black ice, which is difficult to see at night.

Fog and Ice

Fog occurs when there is moisture in the air and temperatures drop the dew point. This moisture is thick and dense containing large amounts of water. When it is carried by air current and passes over roadways if the temperature is below freezing it can result in severe icing in a matter of minutes and can happen on an otherwise clear night.cCold nights with fog blanketing a roadway can and has resulted in numerous serious accidents due to roadway icing when temperatures have dipped into the mid 30’s.

Frost and Icy Roadways

Frost is moisture that settles on the ground on cool and usually clear nights with low wind speeds, usually under 10 mph. The creation of frost touches on infrared radiation, which clouds absorb and emit and warmer objects emit more infrared radiation. Clear nights the surface or ground emits infrared radiation without the clouds to absorb this just is lost to space, resulting in the surface and air to cool rapidly.

The air away from the surface is warmer and the increasing height of the air is referred to as inversion. Cloudy night’s inversion does not occur, because the clouds basically blanket the surface by preventing the quick loss of infrared radiation or heat. Air contains water vapor that cannot be seen until it condenses into ice crystals and the amount of water air can contain varies with the temperature.

Warmer air contains more water vapor and if the air is cooled to the dew point the moisture cannot be held as an invisible gas in the air. This forces the water vapor to condense into drops or ice crystals falling from the air. The ground surface being cooled to near freezing temperatures from night temperatures, and the air reaching the dew point result in frost. This is why when the sun is out frost is not seen and melts rapidly from surfaces due to the rise in temperature or increased infrared radiation.

The more vapor there is in the air the more frost will form, such as areas with swamps, lakes and ponds will have a higher density of vapor in the air and result in a thicker blanket of frost. Frost is also more prevalent in lower lying areas than in higher elevations where wind speeds are usually lower. Generally frost does not accumulate more than 1/16 of an inch and while that seems like a minute amount of the ice crystals it can create a dangerous situation on roadways where it has formed.

This thing coating of ice can make it more difficult to stop and other driving functions more difficult. Frost is responsible for numerous motor vehicle accidents due to the thin coating of ice on roadways it creates.
Drivers should be alert to roadway conditions when the sky is basically cloud free and the night air temperatures are in the mid 30’s.

Freezing Rain

This is rain that has frozen due to the air temperatures or nearly frozen and may be referred to as freezing rain, sleet or drizzle. The way this occurs is because of a layer of air, which is below freezing near the surface with warmer air that is above freezing higher in the atmosphere. As the rain falls because the air higher is warm and passes through the temperatures that are below freezing it then freezes upon hitting the surface. This rain turns into a glazing ice on the surfaces because of being cooled and has the ability to make tree limbs heavy enough to snap and power lines. This can make driving dangerous.

Areas of California can experience freezing rain when the air temperatures are right and helped by low level cold with warm rain coming in from the Pacific. This results in rain freezing on contact with the surface and making higher lavations treacherous because of the warm Pacific weather systems coming into the coast where warm rain falls and when the air temperatures are in the area of 32 degrees it causes freezing rain and in higher mountain locations of the state it often changes over to snow. High winds can result in temperatures plummeting and result in freezing surface areas.

Snow and Ground Water Seepage

Ground water in lower lying areas and melted snow in the upper elevations of California can freeze as the temperatures drop. During the day roadways heat up due to traffic and the warmer daytime temperatures causing water seepage or melted snow to keep from freezing on the asphalt. Once the traffic slows and the night temperatures begin this standing water or wet asphalt can freeze resulting in dangerous driving conditions for motorists.

Roadways made of pavement also known as blacktop roadways heat up by absorbing heat from the sun, which then melts any ice, but as soon as dusk arrives and there is no longer heat absorption the road quickly cools and if the temperatures are freezing the seepage or melted snow then freezes especially if there are few clouds in the sky. This is because cloud cover acts as an insulator during cold weather.

Any time the road surface temperature is above freezing during the day, but falls below freezing at night they can become icy and hazardous for motorists. This condition often occurs on roads that have had the snow plowed in higher elevations and in lower elevations where there is a water source that spreads onto the roadway. On cold nights without cloud cover the cold night air causes evaporation of heat from the roadway and then with the temperatures near freezing the wet areas turns to ice even in low areas where cold air tends to pool.


Slush is melted snow that generally affects the higher elevations in the state of California and is caused when snow begins to fall rapidly and the road surface is warm due to the sun and traffic. Then when the temperatures fall either quickly or because of the lack of warm the partially melted snow freezes and are called slush. This is a mixture of snow, ice and while it is much wetter than snow alone it is also more hazardous for drivers and it can turn to solid ice in the right temperatures.

Bridges Freeze Before Roadways

Bridges often freeze before roadways become icy for a number of reasons, first it may depend on the material the bridge is made from as they often are not covered with asphalt, but might be concrete. Concrete does not hold the same warmth as asphalt because of sun radiation and traffic, which means the colder temperature the faster the bridge will become dangerous during winter driving conditions. Bridges also do not have ground beneath them, leaving room for more cold air to affect the temperature of the bridge even if it is covered with pavement.

Another factor why bridges may freeze quicker than roadways is because they might not absorb the same amount of heat as the roadway the wet conditions from rain, freezing rain or snow may not completely melt or if it does the surface does not dry because the water may have no place to drain. When night temperatures or rapidly falling temperatures occur the surface cools fast making a perfect condition for the liquid to freeze.

Air Temperature and Surface Temperature

Air temperature is generally determined using a thermometer about five feet from the ground and often in an enclosed shelter. This is how official weather reports are decided for daily and nightly temperatures. Roadway and other surface temperatures are far different than the temperature taken above the surface, since cold is heavier due to the moisture contained in the air. The ground temperature can be between 2 and 5 degrees cooler than air temperature, which is why frost can occur even when the air temperature is between 35 and 37 degrees, a temperature that is above freezing.

During the day the road temperature can often be warmer than the air temperature due to cars and trucks warming the surface, along with the sun’s radiation. Once the night temperature falls and traffic decreases the warmth of the surface decreases and on nights that have few clouds the surface temperature cools rapidly. Icing conditions can occur when the surface temperature hits 32 degrees, yet the air temperature may be as high as 37 degrees.

Temperatures and Ice Slippery Conditions

Temperature changes during icy conditions can mean the ice changes and can become more slippery as the temperature warms to near freezing. This is because of the way ice is formed on surfaces according to science. Ice has a thin layer of water on the outside even when the temperatures are below freezing. This layer of water makes the ice slippery and is thickest when the temperature nears freezing and thins when the temperature well below 32 degrees.

This creates a condition where the ice is the most slippery when the temperatures are between 26 and 32 degrees. When the temperature reaches single digits and below 0 degrees the ice becomes less slippery, this means the most caution should be used by motorists when the air temperature is between 32 and 26 degrees, since this is when the ice on roadways will be the most dangerous.

Other Effects

  • Trees and Objects

Trees near roadways can cause shading of the surface as well as hills and other objects and can result in the potential icing of roads and the length of time the roadway remains icy. Trees that overhang on roadways or objects that cover the road can actually block the loss of infrared heading from the sun and lessen the potential for frost.

Often when frost is seen on the grass and other surfaces including roads a driveway may contain frost, but the car might not if it was parked underneath a carport. This is because the roof of the carport would have reduced the amount of heat loss or air containing moisture. The other side of this is roadways that do become icy and have tree cover may remain icy much later into the day than other areas of the road because the tree cover is shielding the roadway from absorbing infrared heat from the sun until the sun moves to a location where the roadway can absorb the heat.

Because driver’s may not take this situation into consideration or may not be prepared for these unexpected areas of ice that might last later into the day or even all day where motorists can hit unexpected areas of ice protected by shade. This leads to car accidents that are often fatal.

Night Temperatures and Icing

Nights that are clear and cold result in the surface losing heat quickly, which generally occurs within the first three or four hours after sunset. The temperatures can even begin falling before sunset on surfaces such as roadway areas that have shade from trees and other objects. In colder temperatures this can create icing conditions on these parts of the roadway earlier in the day and the temperature of the surcace will continue to drop more rapidly than other areas if there are no clouds or fog.

Temperatures will fall slowly during the night and be the lowest near sunrise or a short time after sunrise. Nights that have fog will have less ice conditions on surfaces then clear nights because the fog acts as a thermal blanket. The nights that have icing the largest threat for ice on roadways that is dangerous to motorists is between the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.

Threat of Roadway Ice Tips

During months of cool or cold weather when ice can be a roadway threat, motorists may be safer using some of the information about what causes icy conditions and keeping them in mind while driving.

  • Clear Sky: When the sky is clear when the weather is cool, especially at night the night temperatures can rapidly fall near or after sunset. Monitoring local weather channels can help to determine clear skies and night time temperatures.
  • Official weather temperatures are observed by thermometers that are approximately 5 feet from the surface, which means surface temperatures can be several degrees colder. If the air temperature is 37 degrees the surface temperature can actually be 32 degrees or freezing. This means moisture in the air or rain can freeze on contact with the surface or within a short amount of time.
  • There are websites that have real time weather and surface temperature information for the state of California motorists can use to determine if their location or one they will travel too has issues with rain, frost, snow or ice on the roadways. Using the temperatures, cloud, fog or clear skies motorists can also determine possible driving conditions.
  • Fog is something motorists should pay close attention to during days of cool weather. When the temperature is below the mid 30’s and there is fog, it can travel over roadway surfaces and leave large amounts of ice quickly. This is especially important in areas where there are wet or swampy areas and river valleys. Areas where this is a possible scenario and the road is curvy extreme caution should be used by the driver on cold nights.
  • Roadway areas that may be shaded from the sun on nights when the roads become icy may have ice until later in the morning and in some cases it may remain on this area of the roadway all day when temperatures remain in the 30’s.
  • Unforeseen objects: During conditions when ice may be a factor on the roadway caution should be used and the potential for unforeseen objects such as animals. This combination has the potential for fatal accidents.

As can be seen, ice sheets can form on the road surfaces in many parts of the Golden State. Reaction times and control over vehicles can be severely compromised during icy conditions. California drivers not accustomed to icy road conditions are at particular risk of losing control and are cautioned to reduce vehicles speeds when traversing areas in particular where frost has developed in the surrounding vicinity.

Transvestite Olympian Going Down for Crimes?

Personal Injury car accident attorney Mike Ehline

Michael Ehline accident attorney

Caitlyn, formerly Bruce Jenner has made many headlines over the last several years. The world famous Olympian became even more famous when he was undergoing a gender reassignment surgery, which since then has captured the public’s imagination and even received the public endorsement of the president of the United States. Already a well-known figure, Jenner’s actions have increased “her” profile even further. This is one of the reasons why the February car crash that killed the driver of another car had such a high profile. There has been sort of a back and forth lately over whether or not criminal charges are likely or not likely.

Background of the Bruce Jenner Car Accident

In the accident, Jenner was driving a Cadillac Escalade that hit a Lexus driven by Kim Howe.  The Lexus was then hit by a Hummer. Ms. Howe died of her injuries. Her family being sued for $18.5 million by those inside the Hummer. They allege that the wrongful death occurred due to negligent driving, as reported by the UK Independent. Allegations were swirling about on some of the news stations, that Jenner was undergoing hormone therapy in order to try and become more female like, and that these hormones could have affected his mental state, and judgment negatively, leading to the crash.

Now NBC News is reporting that Jenner may also face a criminal case over the accident. She may face a manslaughter charge if deemed by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office. TMZ is saying no way:

…sources connected to the office tell TMZ the initial sentiment is that the collision was a tragic accident but not criminal. (Source.)

Assuming TMZ is not wrong, it would appear that prosecutors are done studying various factors, including the use of mind altering drugs such as pain medicine, alcohol, the various speeds and locations of the vehicles involved, including Jenner’s and Howe’s vehicles at the time of the crash. A defense attorney interviewed by NBC News also said that he believed that any charges are unlikely. However, as California’s manslaughter statute reads, if Jenner was believed to be criminally negligent, charges could be filed. In cases like this, a wrongful death claim is almost certain to be pursued by any survivor with standing. If convicted of a crime, Jenner may face consequences anywhere from a fine to a year in jail.

Implications of Jenner’s Criminal Conviction in a Future Civil Case

If charges are filed and Jenner is found guilty, the implications in any civil suit could be tremendous. Since criminal negligence would be established in court as part of the criminal case, it would be much easier to do so in a civil case. The civil burden of proof regarding such negligent driving is significantly lower than in criminal cases. A criminal conviction would not only cost Jenner in a court of law, but likely result in a payout to Ms. Howe’s immediate family.

All of this illustrates the sometimes fine line between criminal and civil courts. Due to criminal cases needing to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, there are often civil cases that piggyback on such charges after a wrongful death or injury. Jenner may be able to escape both in the end, but in the meantime the star will need to work closely with her lawyers to avoid jail time or a significant settlement.

Such a reality is also important for car accident victims on both sides should strongly consider. Those that could be found responsible for an accident should immediately contact an attorney specialized in car accidents to determine the exact cause of the accident and how best to proceed. Anyone injured in such a manner should ensure that they are properly covered legally to avoid confusion, a civil case, or any other negative repercussions. Of course, if the leaks are true and TMZ has it right, the scales against criminal are tipped against collateral estoppel or res judicata, and yet are still no bar to any recovery in a civil case for wrongful death.

In fact, negligence in a civil case requires a preponderance of the evidence standard, which is lower than for a criminal action, and is quoted below:

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [he/she] was harmed by [name of defendant]’s negligence. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1. That [name of defendant] was negligent;

2. That [name of plaintiff] was harmed; and

3. That [name of defendant]’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing [name of plaintiff]’s harm. (CACI 400)

(See also damages jury instructions here.)

So the bottom line is, it is probably game on for a wrongful death lawsuit for the Olympian turned woman. We will follow the case and report on any developments as the arise.